Hawthorne highlights feminism through the main characters’ self reliance in The Scarlet Letter. The main protagonist, Hester Prynne, committed adultery and for her sins, is publically humiliated by having to wear a bright red “A” on her chest. She bore a daughter named Pearl, during her prison sentence. As she is released from jail, Hester “walks unattended” and “must either sustain and carry [her daily customs] … or sink beneath it” (Hawthorne 54). Hester is reliant on herself, ‘unattended’. She is not fazed by her public humiliation or her need to be strong when she is alone, suggesting Hester is a strong female character, a major component in feminist novels. Hawthorne’s wording suggests Hester can choose to go on as a sinner or wither in her guilt. This provides Hester with free will, which is another feminist novel characteristic. However later in the story, Hester overcame her sinner identity through her independence: “The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her, - so much power to do, and power to sympathize, - that many people refused to int...
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...ttle girl. Pearl does not hold back when it comes to asking anyone around her questions. Hester and Pearl encounter Dimmesdale in the forest. When he leaves Pearl asks, “Mother, was that the same minister that kissed me in the brook?” Her mother responds with, “Hold thy peace… we must not always talk…happens to us in the forest” (Hawthorne 164). Pearl’s wild and curious characteristics suggest elements of confidence and free flowing thoughts, because she repeatedly asks questions on topics taboo to others. Hawthorne using Pearl as a fearless female character creates a parallel with a strong independent female lead in a feminist novel. Thus, Hawthorne is able to use Pearl and Hester’s free thought and confidence in their words to create elements seen in feminist novels.
Hester stood alone as an Adulteress, but now stands for all women empowering their own Abilities.
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